The importance of the interview process doesn’t actually wane until you’ve signed a contract so it’s critical to apply the same respect to the post-interview period and hopefully the final round interview too.
From after the interview to tips on how to shine in the final round and making the shortlist, Simon Wright of CareersinAudit.com shares his insights on making it all the way to ‘you’re hired’.
To thank you note or not
While, once upon a time, employers would have expected a handwritten note of thanks following an interview, in this day and age that custom is no longer appropriate.
Rob Hamilton, managing director at London recruitment firm Clear Edge Consulting, said: “I think it’s too old fashioned and slow as a means of communication. However, a follow-up email, ideally sent via your recruiter, offers the opportunity to reinforce your suitability for the position and address any areas of the interview that you felt could have been handled better at the time.”
Acknowledging the fundamental expectation of good manners, however, Hamilton said: “On a basic level thanking the interviewer for their time is a common courtesy that is always appreciated and offers the opportunity to directly address any reservations that may have been conveyed to your consultant.”
Patience is a virtue
Waiting to hear if you’ll get a second interview can be torturous but it’s important to adhere to the timeframe set out by your recruiter or the company you’ve interviewed with. Don’t call if they’ve asked you to email and wait the fortnight if that’s the time period they’ve stated until you’ll hear back.
Don’t pester for a response and when you do make contact to follow up, if they don’t return your second call it’s probably not meant to be. As for social media, the only acceptable time to send a LinkedIn invitation is once the hiring process has been completed.
Use the time between interviews to ensure you truly stand out in the final round, which could be scheduled at a moment’s notice, so the sooner you’re prepped the better.
Really research the company to unearth those factoids your competition may overlook; from a newly implemented initiative to an award-winning project, you can work this information into your conversation at the follow-up interview.
Another tip is if you have a suitably impressive contact within the audit or accountancy space, preferably one who knows your recruiter or hiring manager, ask if they’ll put in a good word for you and drop an InMail via LinkedIn that reiterates your experience and skillset. Also, now may be a good time to contact your references so that they’re not caught off guard when the hiring manager calls them and are thus ready to sing your praises.
Have a back up plan
The hiring process is a complex beast, it can unexpectedly draw to an end if economic influences instigate a hiring freeze or the company may just decide to hire internally. Keep some of the power of the process in your own hands and don’t end your job search until an offer has been made and accepted. Keeping the momentum going will mean you have other opportunities and interviews lined up so that if rejection knocks you down you can pick yourself right back up and carry on.
It’s hard to recall your motivation in the wake of negative responses which is why this step is so important to your eventual job procurement success.
There’s a reason why musicians and athletes watch their performances back after the event, and it’s simply to learn from mistakes and capitalise on what went right.
Was your research into the company deep enough? Could you have asked better or more questions? Were you distracted? Did you maintain eye contact?
Answering these questions will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses all the more effectively so as to enhance your interview performance for the second round or future job interviews.
One of the key things your interviewer is looking for in a final round interview is your interest in and enthusiasm for the role. Ask questions. “In closing, you have the opportunity to confirm your interest in the role based on what you have learned during the interview,” said Hamilton.
There is no such thing as too many questions in a final interview (provided they’re the right ones). Ask about your role and subsequent career progression; ask what a typical day looks like; ask about the people who excel within the business; the skills and character traits that signal success; ask about key projects or initiatives currently underway; ask about important clients; ask what they enjoy about their job.
Equally importantly, if you choose your questions carefully you may be able to dispel any concerns the interviewer may have about you. “This part of the interview,” said Hamilton, “gives you the chance to directly ask the interviewer what reservations they have about you as a potential employee, thus giving you the opportunity to try and address any negatives during the interview.”
Win them over with your personality
Your skills, experience and qualifications got you through the door, now your personality has to secure you a seat at the table.
Keep a professional demeanour but remember you’re showing not only your ability to do the job but also that you’ll be a well-liked member of the team. Share a laugh or too with your interviewer and remind them that even while reviewing audits you’ll be a fun person to have around.
Strengths and weaknesses
Talk up your skills and credentials; it’s okay to remind them why you’re here but you don’t want to come off as arrogant, so addressing areas of weakness is good too, particularly if you can explain how you’re working on improving them.
This is your final chance to sell yourself as the right candidate for the job, so remember to bring the focus back to you at every opportunity. While they’re showing you around the office and explaining the work you’ll be doing, you can keep reminding them why you belong there.
Bow out gracefully
If you’re unsuccessful on this occasion make sure you leave a positive lasting impression.
You may not have been right for this particular role but maintaining professionalism and friendliness throughout the process will endear the interviewer to you and possibly open other doors.
Treat every interview process as a networking opportunity, because the audit and accountancy world is relatively small and you never know, a rejection could lead to the role of your dreams.
Stay on their radar
On that note, it’s worth staying in contact with your interviewer as if another opportunity arises and you’re top of mind you may very well secure yourself first refusal.
Don’t overdo it, but it’s fine to reach out to them every few months. Perhaps send them an article via LinkedIn that you’ve written or read that you think they’d find interesting or share something helpful you’ve recently learned.